My Top 10 Historical Fiction Novels Reviewed in 2021, With One Extra Special Mention #Top10of2021

Historical Fiction and its sub-genres are my favorite books to read. Below are 11 of my favorites (one special mention) that I reviewed this year. The book did not have to be published in 2021, but had to have been reviewed by me in 2021. My review is included. You can find the links to buy the books by clicking on the covers.

10. MURDER AT WAKEHURST

After the death of her uncle, Cornelius Vanderbilt, in 1899, Emma Cross is in mourning and has no desire to accompany her cousin Neily (Cornelius Vanderbilt III) to a decadent and rousing party. The party will be held in Newport, Rhode Island, at the home of a member of one of America’s richest and most powerful families. But Neily had been estranged from his late father, and his wife Grace implores Emma to attend to help keep him out of trouble. Then, during an elaborate jousting ceremony, a distinguished judge is murdered, and Emma finds the body. Police detective Jesse Whyte does not seem to be on the case as usual. There is a new detective, and he wants no help from Emma. Emma, a reporter, continues to investigate the crime anyway, with the help of Derrick Andrews, heir to a Providence newspaper fortune. This is the ninth book in the Gilded Newport series.

This fantastic series continues with another installment, and plenty of twists, turns, and red herrings. The life of opulence lived by the Gilded Age’s privileged families is richly described. As a Vanderbilt cousin, Emma has access to elegant parties and mansions, but she is also looked down upon by some as a poor relation who has to work for a living. While sometimes hanging with the high-flyers, Emma keeps her feet firmly on the ground. Her position as an outsider with connections is an intriguing one, as she can hold her own amongst the elite, but is also accepted in the staff kitchens. This is another gripping and clever mystery about a sleuth who inhabits two worlds at once, and it will transport you to a time of luxury, greed, and the quest for power. Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from Kensington Books for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own. 

9. THE SIEGE OF AN LOC

The Siege of An Loc is the story of the defense of An Loc in 1972 during the Vietnam War. It is also a love story between a South Vietnamese soldier, Trung, and Ly, a student, daughter of a rubber plantation owner. As Trung struggles to defend his country, he finds himself falling for the beautiful Ly, but do they have a chance for happiness in the midst of war? We also see the evil of communism especially personified in one of the characters, and two brothers are reunited, one from North Vietnam and one from South Vietnam.

I learned so much about the Vietnam War from this book. When I was in grade school and high school in the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, they didn’t teach us much about it. I just knew my uncle died in this war at the age of 20, and I really didn’t even know why he was there. When we would ask in the mid-70s, we were told nobody liked to talk about it. But now the author, Nguyen Trong Hien, has answered a lot of the questions. I love the fact that we see inside the war from the perspective of a South Vietnamese soldier instead of the American perspective. And we learn of the atrocities of Communism and how it takes over and annihilates a culture.

This is both a romance and a history book, and sometimes it felt as if we left the romance and entered a very detailed history book with little transition. However, the history is important for the reader to know, and the characters were interesting and well developed. The ending of the book was left open for our characters, and I wasn’t sure what happened to them after South Vietnam fell. I hope there will be a sequel. 

I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author. I also downloaded a digital copy on Kindle Unlimited, where members can read books at no additional cost. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

8. THE THIN PLACE

Scotland, present day. Reporter Ava is working on a story about Overtoun Bridge, outside Overtoun House in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Over the years, at least fifty dogs have jumped to their deaths from the bridge. Legends describe Overtoun Bridge as a “thin place,” where the boundary between Heaven and Earth is very thin. The locals will not cooperate, so Ava, pregnant with her first child, begins to investigate. Ava is also trying to get medical history from her mother, who was adopted, but she is uncooperative.

In 1929 England, Marion meets Hamish at a tea dance at the Savoy Hotel. She is swept quickly into marriage and is soon living in the huge and mostly unused Overtoun House in Scotland, sometimes visited by a very absent husband who has little love to share with her.

In 1949 in Scotland, Constance is confined to her room by her mother because she is very ill. Her mother and the doctor are the only people she sees, and she longs for contact with the outside world. When her mother brings her a puppy, some joy comes into her life.

This is a captivating but chilling historical mystery which combines the very real Overtoun house with fictional characters to create an intriguing story. The reports of dogs jumping to their deaths from Overtoun Bridge are heartbreaking but true facts that are spun into this fascinating mystery. The characters are well developed, and their connections begin to come alive. Overtoun House itself becomes a character, alternating between telling secrets and refusing to give them up. The bridge seems to live and breathe, hoping to lure captors to their deaths. This is a spellbinding novel that I highly recommend to those who enjoy historical mysteries with a touch of the paranormal.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review. My review is voluntary.

NOTE: The mystery of dogs jumping off of the Overtoun Bridge is very real. At least 300, if not more, dogs have inexplicably jumped off the bridge. At least 50 of them have died. If you would like to read more about this mystery, check out this link.

7. TELLING SONNY

Faby Gauthier lives in a small town in Vermont in the 1920’s. She is bored with small town living and fascinated by Vaudeville and the showbiz life. When she meets Slim White, a dancer in a traveling Vaudeville show, she quickly gets pregnant and caught up in a marriage that happens before she knows it. We follow Faby on the Vaudeville circuit, travel with her on uncomfortable train trips, and stay with her in cheap hotels as we learn about the less glamorous side of showbiz. 

This is a beautifully written novel by Elizabeth Gaffreau that starts in small-town Vermont and takes us all over the Vaudeville circuit in the Eastern United States in the 1920’s. We learn a lot about Vaudeville life, sacrifice, and the loss of innocence. We are shown through Faby’s sister the life she could have had. We are also reminded of the priceless gift of family and the care of those who love us.

Gaffreau has an amazing ability to show us the reality of life behind the facade. For example, her descriptions of 1920’s telephone operators: “…where, inside, pale young women plugged and unplugged the telephone conversations of the village with bony fingers while they waited for someone to marry them.”

I would recommend this well-crafted novel to everyone who enjoys historical novels or anyone who wants to read a moving family story.

6. THE WIND CHIME

In Windsor, England, 2019, Amelia is completely without family, having lost her daughter and then her parents to serious illness.  Without any surviving relatives, she is adrift and contemplates selling the family home in Windsor.  When fulfilling the last request of her mother to clear out the attic, she finds some intriguing photographs of a large estate in Pembrokeshire featuring the Attwater family.  When Amelia uncovers the diary of Osyth Attwater, she realizes she may have discovered some family secrets.  

In Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1883, young Osyth Attwater is a dreamer and writer who awaits the gathering of the Attwaters, her storytelling family, at their oceanside mansion each year.  There is a wind chime in the garden that signals the arrival of relatives, and she greatly looks forward to the tales they will tell.  But then she overhears a conversation that will shatter her world.

This dual timeline novel of family secrets, fairy tales, missing pieces, and a special wind chime is both enchanting and compelling.  In their separate timelines, Osyth and Amelia both search for answers.  The theme of mental health, and how it was managed in 1883 versus the present, is explored.  The secrets that families keep and the reasons they keep them is examined in heartbreaking detail. The pace and flow of this book are gorgeous, and we are caught up in the beauty of Wales, the magic of fairy tales, and the mystery of family secrets.  With Amelia, we piece together puzzling bits of family history and try to see the whole picture. The Wind Chime will engage all of your senses as you see the gorgeous Victorian mansion, feel the heartbreak, smell the ocean air,  taste the tears of grief, and hear the wind chime calling you home.  This is a soul-touching and captivating read.  Highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from Sapere Books via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

5. THE KEEPER OF HAPPY ENDINGS

n France in 1939, Soline is working with her mother in their dress shop preparing wedding dresses with “happy endings.” Her mother, who is known as “The Dress Witch,” stitches happiness into the gowns with family spells and a little magic. Soline is a talented designer who does not feel she has the family’s magical gift. She dreams of leaving the dress shop and becoming famous for designs of her own. Then the Nazis arrive. While working as a volunteer in the hospital, Soline meets Anson, an American ambulance driver.

In 1985, Rory is barely existing. Her life has been on hold for months while she waits for word of her fiancé, who has been kidnapped while working for Doctors Without Borders. Then she awakens a little as she sees a building that speaks to her, and begins to plan the art gallery that she has long dreamed of. Soline is also living in Boston in 1985. Her dress shop has been destroyed in a fire, and she has injuries that will not allow her to sew again. She spends her time dreaming of a lost love and an unused wedding dress.

This is a beautiful story of two heartbroken women whose worlds meet at a crucial time. The main characters, Soline and Rory, will reach out from the page and touch your heart. The romance between Soline and Anson in Nazi- occupied France is touching and real. The description of their work for the French resistance is thrilling and mesmerizing. In 1985, it is a joy to watch as the cautious friendship between Rory and Soline blossoms and grows. This intriguing novel is magically woven together with sorrow, surprises, and happiness, just like the wedding gowns of “The Dress Witch.”

4. A PECULIAR COMBINATION

A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver is the first book in the new Electra McDonnell series, which is set in World War II England. Electra (Ellie) belongs to a family of thieves.   Her Uncle Mick is a master safecracker, and she and her cousins, Toby and Colm, have learned everything they know from him. With Toby and Colm off fighting in the war, it is up to Ellie and Uncle Mick to keep supporting the family. When a house robbery goes bad, Ellie finds herself working for a government official, Major Ramsey, in order to keep herself and Uncle Mick out of jail. Their first mission leads to more as it becomes clear a traitor is at work and German spies are involved.

This is an engaging and addictive historical thriller with a touch of romance. I immediately connected with these characters, especially Ellie and Uncle Mick. Ellie is an intriguing and complex individual. She is a thief and safecracker, but has also been to finishing school. She can operate in any level of society, which makes her a perfect thief and a perfect spy. Uncle Mick is a locksmith by day and safecracker by night, but he has a moral code, even as a thief, that he will not break. He has passed that code onto Ellie.    Ellie’s missions into high society with the Major are thrilling and fun to watch. They are a reminder that World War II was also fought silently by spies on both sides.   Fans of historical thrillers and strong female characters are going to love this World War II spy adventure.  Highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from Minotaur Books for review in Historical Novels Review Magazine. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.

3. AUGUSTINA DE ARAGÓN

Gail Meath brings a legend to life in this beautiful historical romance/thriller based on the life of Agustina Raimunda Maria Saragossa, or Agustina de Aragón, also known as “The Spanish Joan of Arc.” We learn the true story of Agustina’s heroic acts during the First Siege of Zaragosa, her life as a soldier and prisoner, and her romance with her beloved Juan Roca. Set in Barcelona and then Zaragosa, and other points in Spain, we meet Agustina as a girl and then follow her into womanhood, motherhood, and war.

The author’s meticulous research into the life and customs of early 1800s Spain is obvious, as Agustina’s world comes alive. The reader will feel as if they are there, visiting the marketplace and working alongside Agustina in her father’s bladesmith shop. The love story between Agustina and Roca is very well done, and their passion and dedication to each other are painted across every page. 

When danger arrives in the form of the Napoleon-led French Army, we can see the bloody battles and the savagery of the enemy, as well as the bravery of the Spanish people, as they fight off onslaught after onslaught. The terrible price of war is shown again and again, and the reader will weep along with Agustina as she faces unspeakable loss. The author’s knowledge of the topic is impressive, and I learned so much about Napoleon’s attacks on and eventual takeover of Spain. Although Agustina is famous for her acts during the First Siege of Zaragosa, she was also a mother, soldier, and prisoner of war, and it all comes alive in this novel. The ending is absolutely intriguing, and not to be missed.

I require two things from historical fiction. The first is that I be transported to the time and place being described. There is no question I felt transported to marketplaces, battlefields, and even prison in this fantastic novel. The second is that I learn something, and this book introduced me to Agustina herself, and then taught me much about the Napoleonic wars.

Agustina De Aragón introduces us to a compelling real-life legend, takes us into her world, and shows us the realities of war. It is a must read for fans of strong female characters. If you have never heard of Agustina, this book will introduce you in an unforgettable way.

2. THE FAR AWAY GIRL

n 1976, five-year-old Rita is ripped away from the only family she has ever known and is taken to Georgetown, Guyana, to live with her father, Jitty Miraj. A wild child, she surrounds herself with animals and   books,   and   shares   everything   with   her   diary,   a   gift   from   her   father.   Her    father becomes    her world,    and   she     forgets   her     past.      When     Doomsday     comes,     and     she    meets Jitty’s   new   wife Chandra,   Rita    is    told   that   she is not good   enough.    Chandra   is   embarrassed   of Rita’s African and Amerindian roots, her curly hair, and the fact that her parents weren’t married. Rita is quickly set off to the side.   Then a chance to visit her mother’s family presents itself.    Will Rita finally learn the truth her father will never tell? How did her mother die? This is the coming of age story of Rita Miraj, from five years old to adulthood.

This is an absolutely gorgeous, soul-touching book that I could not put down. We are immediately drawn into Rita’s life and grow up with her as she learns to cope with a weak but manipulative father and his empty promises. Words are her gift, and we are gifted with her poems and diary entries. Music, movies, and   political/historical   events   of   the   1970s   and    1980s    are relayed    through Rita,    Jitty,    and flashbacks   to   Rita’s   mother   Cassie.   The   lush   beauty, diverse wildlife,   and   rich   history    of the Pomeroon River area   are   described    in   vivid   detail.    Rita    has    a    deeply    moving     and     soul- changing moment on Shell   Beach   watching   a   turtle   lay   her   eggs,   and   I was drawn in to her overwhelming wonder and joy. The evolution of Rita’s heart, mind, and goals as she grows and learns is so well captured here. This book was an unforgettable, magical joy to read.  Highly recommend.

I received a free copy from Bookouture for Historical Novels Review. I also purchased a copy to support this amazing book. My opinions are my own.

  1. UNDER THE BAYOU MOON

After leaving her home in Alabama, Ellie Fields arrives in Bernadette, Louisiana, in 1949 for her new teaching job. The people of this town do not trust outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture. But as Ellie settles into her job, she is accepted by almost everyone, except for the school board and a greedy politician. When Ellie meets Raphe, he   introduces her to the legendary white alligator who inhabits the waters, and he and Ellie soon begin a relationship. When a huge bounty is offered for the gator and an evil man tries to destroy the town, Raphe and Ellie will find their courage tested.

This is a gorgeous tale that draws the reader in with almost musical writing. The lonely character of Raphe, the loyal and determined Ellie, and the beautiful town with its rich history are all so well described. The threat to the white alligator, “L’Esprit Blanc,” mirrors the threat to the entire town and its culture from outsiders only interested in conformity and money. The characters, whether endearing, challenging, or infuriating, are beautifully composed. Through the weaving together of violin music, tall tales, chirping crickets, and the beauty and culture of the Bayou, Valerie Fraser Luesse has created a lyrical and masterful literary composition that you won’t want to put down.

I received a free copy of this book from Revell Books via the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

SPECIAL MENTION: SONGBIRD

Since I’m the editor of this book, I thought it might be biased to put it in the top 10, but I wanted everyone to know that this is an awesome book! Songbird has it all–A mystery, New York City history, and a German Shepherd! Be sure and check it out by clicking on the cover. See my review below:

This is a fantasically fun cozy mystery set in 1923 New York. The characters don’t just jump off the page, they pull you into their world. Jax’s sidekick, Ace, the wonderfully charming German Shepherd, will make his way into your heart in no time. The setting in 1923 New York City is well described and transports us back to that place and time. The portrayal of Coney Island makes you feel as if you are there, hanging on for dear life in the Steeplechase or winning a prize in the baseball toss. The mystery is so well done, with puzzles and red herrings that will keep you guessing. The main characters are complex and interesting. Jax, private investigator and former cop, has his own secrets to keep, and Laura’s talents are revealed to expand way beyond singing.

There is a sweet romance, but the complex and fascinating mystery is the star of the show, along with the lovable Ace. I highly recommend this book, the first in the Jax Diamond Mysteries series, to all mystery fans and to anyone who loves reading about our canine friends.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

More Of Our Readers’ Favorites of 2021 #Bestof2021

Below are more favorites chosen by our readers as their favorite books of 2021. The link to buy each book can be found by clicking on the cover.

YOUNG ADULT

Just when Areum, daughter of a privileged family in the totalitarian state of Choson, thought she was free from her personal prison, her world collapses around her as her family is taken away in the middle of the night to a hell-like camp in the mountains where people who have strayed from the righteous path are brutally re-educated through blood, sweat, tears and starvation.

There she has to fight for survival together with the family she hates and is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life until then: her deep resentment toward her twin sister; her view of her father in the face of mounting evidence that he is a traitor with the blood of millions of fellow countrymen on his hands; and even her love and affection for the Great General – the eternal savior and protector of Choson, whom she had always considered her true father.

This is the first book in the Juche series. There are a total of three books available right now, with a fourth coming in May. Click on the cover to find purchase information for the whole series.

Jack Monroe and his friends have been volunteered to help out at Saint Nicholas’ Farms to start off their Christmas vacation. They quickly discover that they’ve been selected to not only help decorate the Christmas tree for a big ceremony but also to foil the plans of a secret organization known as the Shadows.

Despite having his own adventure, Jack is summoned once again to witness the life of Niko Monroe, who is clinging to the hope that he can find his friends, save his family, and free the Faithful from the tyrannical reign of President Julius Arrigo.

Join Niko and his companions – Maia, Rafe, Wiley, and Flick – as they travel the State of Ariel, defy state officials out to stop them, and lead a new generation of the Faithful to unravel Arrigo’s insidious conspiracy to destroy Ariel and the neighboring nation of Jakkobah in unending war.
Is there hope for the Faithful?

ROMANCE

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before her daughter was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get ‘to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Maya Jackson has worked for a renowned New York City bridal gown brand for years and dreams of becoming Head Designer. She has the talent, she just needs a chance to showcase her unique style. Due to an illness, she’s always prioritized her career over her personal life until Maya’s father fractures his hip and she returns to Charleston, SC. While home for only a few months, she’s thrilled to find an opportunity at the local bridal gown boutique, never expecting sparks to fly with its owner…

A military veteran and widowed father, Derek Sullivan hopes to save Always a Bride from bankruptcy in order to preserve the legacy of his family. He also wants to reconnect with his estranged, twelve-year-old daughter, who is still recovering from the loss of her mother. The last thing he needs is a relationship with a beautiful, smart, complicated woman who will be leaving soon.

When Derek begins to fall for the lovely Maya, he knows there’s no future. But destiny has its own plans, and these two lonely people with big hearts discover that coming home to love is the best gift life can give.

NONFICTION

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni offers a remarkable insight into the lives of Afghan women both before and after Taliban’s rise to power. The reader is caught up in the day-to-day lives of women like Sharifa, Latifa and Marzia, sharing their problems, dramas, the tears and the laughter: whether enjoying a good gossip over tea and fresh nan, dealing with a husband’s desertion, battling to save the life of a one-year-old opium addict or learning how to deliver babies safely.
Mary Smith spent several years in Afghanistan working on a health project for women and children in both remote rural areas and in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Given the opportunity to participate more fully than most other foreigners in the lives of the women, many of whom became close friends, she has been able to present this unique portrayal of Afghan women – a portrayal very different from the one most often presented by the media.

The undertow of the Great Depression becomes poignantly personal as we experience the travails of Leora and Clabe Wilson, a displaced Iowa farm family. Gritty determination fuels this family’s journey of loss and hope, a reflection of what many American families endured during those challenging times.

In this true story the Wilsons slowly slide into unemployment and poverty. Leora must find ways to keep her dreams alive while making a haven for her flock of seven children in one run-down house after another.

Philosophers and mystics ponder the mystery of these flashes. Pamela Wight writes about life flashes in her short stories that include family and friends, love and life’s challenges. Wight’s “Flash Memoir” promotes the belief that we all share sparks of the extraordinary that occur in our everyday life. Each short story is true and brings a smile of recognition to her readers: that life transports and enthralls us in all its confusing, amusing, challenging, and astonishing ways. Each story is light-hearted and short – like a flash – but be prepared for a page-turner that keeps you in your seat, smiling.


Best Books of 2021 Chosen by Our Readers

The readers of this blog have spoken and provided us their favorite books of the year. The books did not have to be publlished in 2021 as long as they were read in 2021. I have provided the cover, description, and links to buy for some of the books, with more to follow later. The list below is all historical fiction. You can find the link to buy by clicking on the book cover. I will post more of our reader’s favorites tomorrow. Later this week I’ll provide a list of the Top 7 books I’ve reviewed this year.

Historical Fiction (In No Particular Order)

Joan Flower and her daughters enjoy a pleasant and comfortable life in the Leicestershire village of Bottesford, despite Joan’s superior and proud manner, which makes her unpopular with other villagers. When tragedy strikes and the three women find themselves without their only source of income, the comfortable lifestyle becomes a thing of the past.


The women are fortunate in finding temporary employment at Belvoir Castle and, while it lasts, they manage quite well. But a series of incidents and thoughtless deeds result in the three being dismissed, leaving them with only the coin earned from Joan’s meetings with her lover, and the sale of her herbal remedies, to live on.


Joan sees this dismissal as a personal attack on her family by the immensely rich Sir Francis and Lady Cecilia Manners. Joan’s desire for revenge on the people who had brought her family down drives her to do things she would not ordinarily have done…
Whispers of devilish practices soon circulate, eventually reaching the ears of the earl and countess, who are already racked with grief over a seemingly incurable illness plaguing their family. Eventually, Lady Cecilia becomes convinced that Joan and her daughters have cast spells on the family, causing them heartbreak and loss. Is this the beginning of the end for the Flower women?

In 1972 North Việt Nam launched the Easter Offensive against South Việt Nam. One of its main objectives was to capture the city of An Lộc and declare it the capital of a Provisional Revolutionary Government.While many accounts of the military battle exist, this novel is the first to describe it through the eyes of the soldiers and civilians who underwent over three months of fighting and surviving in the wartime inferno created by North Vietnamese artillery and tank-led attacks.While carefully weaving historical facts with vivid descriptions of daily life, the author has crafted a page-turner involving a young Regional Forces Lieutenant and the daughter of a rubber plantation owner. Through it all, readers are given a detailed look not only at how generals and commanders planned and fought the battle, but perhaps more importantly, at how the soldiers and civilians of An Lộc managed to endure and survive their hellish ordeal

After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summons a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.


Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?


After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lie in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.

Katie Jones is committed to fighting for the cause of woman’s suffrage. She has no time for romance, especially not with her best friend Ben Rafferty. But when Katie’s column in Ben’s newspaper stirs things up, sparks begin to fly. Ben is set on winning Katie over, but Katie is just as determined to stay true to her 1916 feminist ideals. With such strong obstacles in the way, their relationship can’t possibly progress. Unless somehow love finds a way…

“You can run all you want, Katie. You still can’t run away from your feelings or from my love. Not today. Not ever.” With determination in his voice, he added, “I will catch you, Katie.”


While Catching Katie entertains us with an appealingly feisty heroine and a tender love story, author Robin Lee Hatcher is not afraid to challenge us with thought-provoking issues and valid spiritual insights. A truly enjoyable read! — Cindy Swanson, host of Weekend Rockford radio show.

Barcelona, Spain, 1803. Agustina Saragossa, the youngest daughter of a bladesmith, sneaks around the military barracks, yet not to snag a husband as everyone thinks. Stubborn, hot-tempered and fiercely devoted to her country, like her grandfather before her, she is far more interested in learning about the ensuing war between Britain and France than the lazy, arrogant Spanish soldiers at the compound.

When Sergeant Juan Roca, a handsome officer with a troubled past, is relocated to the barracks, he is instantly struck by Agustina’s beauty and fiery spirit. Despite her heated rejections and open mistrust, he relentlessly pursues her. Will he ever win her heart?

As the war progresses between their neighboring countries, Napoleon Bonaparte deviously orders the invasion of Spain, thinking it will be an easy task. But Agustina and Juan join the fight first as guerillas then soldiers in their valiant effort to crush the enemy and regain the freedom of their country.

A dynamic and heartfelt story based upon true events that takes place during one of the most devastating wars in Europe. It captures the strength of unity and family and is known as one most powerful love stories in history.

“A rip-roaring good historical mystery with Agatha Christie’s astute detecting skills, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s eye for the 1920s New York lifestyle.” – Historical Fiction Company

It’s all fun and games, until someone gets killed.

Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective. Or is he? Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission. Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look. And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it. Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

Last Week of the Year! Hope You Had a Merry Christmas. #Poetry #Dogs

Merry Christmas from Harold, Holly, and Hermann! Here’s a little poem. I don’t know how to describe it, but maybe rhyming free verse? For my next few posts after this one, I’ll sharing books our readers have nominated as their favorites of the year.

After Christmas

The presents have been given
The food is put away
Time to sit back and celebrate the day

The week to come
Will end the year for all
A season over, a new year calls

Our hearts are open
And God will hear
Our precious prayers for the coming year


Thanks so much everyone, for reading my blog, and for your friendship and support. This year has been a blast.



Book Review: A Christmas Legacy #Christmas #VictorianMystery

Gracie Tellman, former maid to Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, is enjoying her home and family in Victorian-era London and looking forward to Christmas with her daughter, Charlie, when a knock sounds at the door. Millie, a young maid in the Harcourt household, has come with disturbing news. High-quality food is disappearing, and it won’t be long before the mistress of the house finds out. The servants are scared that somebody will be accused of theft, and nobody knows the culprit. Gracie decides to take Millie’s place for nine days leading up to Christmas in order to solve this mystery. Gracie soon learns that all is not as it seems, and reveals that sometimes evil can parade about in fancy clothes.

This satisfying Christmas novella combines mystery, suspicion, upheaval, acts of kindness, and a Christmas miracle together to create a captivating story. The perils of servant life in a Victorian household are well described, and the young age of some of the servants at the time is shocking. The rich also had the ability in those days to completely ruin the lives of their servants by sending them to the street, homeless, with no reference. The fact that some homeowners held this power over the heads of those in their employ in order to terrorize them is disturbing. But despite the tumult, a sense of truth, loyalty, and fairness is also woven into the story, and it ends with a miracle so wonderful that it could only happen at Christmas. Anne Perry has once again created a Christmas tale that will captivate the reader and transport them straight to Victorian London during the holidays.

I received a free copy of this book from Ballantine Books for Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Dark Assassin and The Shifting Tide, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including The Cater Street Hangman, Calandar Square, Buckingham Palace Gardens and Long Spoon Lane. She is also the author of the World War I novels No Graves As Yet, Shoulder the Sky, Angels in the Gloom, At Some Disputed Barricade, and We Shall Not Sleep, as well as six holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Grace. Anne Perry lives in Scotla

BUY LINKS

AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

APPLE BOOKS

Self-Published Saturday: What’s Wrong With A Pet Dinosaur #Poetry #KidsBooks

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help Indie and Self-Published authors with one of the many tasks they are responsible for–marketing. If I can help in even a small way with the daunting task of marketing, I’m happy to do it. I missed putting the post up yesterday because of a very busy schedule, but as always, SP Saturday will still go up, even if it’s not Saturday anymore. Today we have a really cute kid’s book of rhymes/story poems accompanied by illustrations. Check out the review below.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a really cute collection of fun and whimsical poems that children and adults will love. They each tell a story that will have you laughing. The accompanying illustrations add to the joy of reading this book.

Each poem tells a story in delightful rhyme. The book reminds me a tiny bit of Dr. Seuss, with the author’s own unique touches, of course. My favorite poems are “Jeremy Myer is Such a Liar,” “Monster Under The Bed,” and “I Want The Very Best Birthday Party.” Parents and kids will have a great time reading these poems together.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley. I also downloaded it on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tony Philips

When he is not doodling on donkeys or writing silly poems on bathroom walls, Tony Philips is trying to answer the pressing questions that confound experts the world over, like who left the toilet seat up? He grew up in a suburb in Pennsylvania near a turkey farm. Every so often, frantic turkeys, escaped from the farm, would show up in his back yard, and he and his siblings would try to hide them. Have you ever tried to usher a crazed turkey behind a bush? It’s not easy. He attended art classes at the Baum School of Art and got a degree in Creative Writing from Haverford College. He tried writing for television, but found nobody wanted to hear his stories about freaked out turkeys. Or about how an unhinged turkey once bit his younger brother on the toe. It’s true, really. Tony lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter. He can be found online at TonyPhilips.com.

LINKS TO BUY

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

*If you read the book, please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

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Blog Tour and Review: Death in the Last Reel

BOOK DESCRIPTION

‘Stop standing in the way of bullets.’

‘I will if you will.’

Does the camera ever lie?

1911: After the violent murder of three policemen in the line of duty, tensions between London constabulary and Whitechapel anarchists simmer. Meanwhile accusations and counter accusations of espionage further weaken relations between Germany and Britain. Can Margaret Demeray and Fox find out which potential enemy is behind a threat to the capital before it’s too late?

In the shadow of violence in the East End, just as Dr Margaret Demeray starts to gain recognition for her pathology work, a personal decision puts her career at the hospital under threat. Needing to explore alternative options, she tries working with another female doctor in Glassmakers Lane. But in that genteel street, a new moving-picture studio is the only thing of any interest, and Margaret’s boredom and frustration lead to an obsessive interest in the natural death of a young woman in a town far away.

Meanwhile intelligence agent Fox is trying to establish whether rumours of a major threat to London are linked to known anarchist gangs or someone outside Britain with a different agenda. When another mission fails and he asks Margaret to help find out who provided the false intelligence that led him in the wrong direction, she can’t wait to assist.

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK

Amazon US

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paula Harmon

Paula Harmon was born in North London to parents of English, Scottish and Irish descent. Perhaps feeling the need to add a Welsh connection, her father relocated the family every two years from country town to country town moving slowly westwards until they settled in South Wales when Paula was eight. She later graduated from Chichester University before making her home in Gloucestershire and then Dorset where she has lived since 2005. She is a civil servant, married with two adult children. Paula has several writing projects underway and wonders where the housework fairies are, because the house is a mess and she can’t think why.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a compelling mystery/thriller set in the United Kingdom in 1911, prior to Word War I. Margaret Demeray is a strong female protagonist–a pathologist who helps determine suspicious means of death. Intelligence Agent Fox is a spy, and the relationship between the two of them is full of sparks. The dialogue between our two protagonists is witty and fun, and they are not afraid of an argument. There are multiple storylines in this book, and they all progress well, with twists, turns, and surprises. The limits and constrictions put on women of that time are made evident. Real events from history are woven expertly into this story as the world appears about to begin The Great War. This is Book Two in the Margaret Demeray series, but can be read as a standalone.

Book Review and Q&A: Winter Solstice by Diana Howard. Don’t miss the bonus poem! #Poetry #Dementia #Alzheimer’s

Winter Solstice is a beautiful and heartbreaking poetic account of the end of life journey of the author’s mother, who was losing her memory. This made my heart ache because I went through this with my Dad as well, and watched him eventually forget us due to Dementia. It is a tough thing to experience, but Diana Howard writes about this sad journey with honesty, truth, and compassion.

Some of the poems in this collection compare this condition to nature and the winter season, and some are very matter-of-fact accounts of the effects of this disease. All of them will speak to somebody who has been affected by this in one way or another.

Anyone who has lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s or Dementia will identify with this heartfelt and very candid poetic account of a long and agonizing loss of a parent.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Q&A WITH DIANA HOWARD (With a bonus poem from the author!)

Winter Solstice was of course inspired by your Mother’s battle with dementia.  I also lost a parent and grandparent to dementia and I want to express my deepest condolences.   Was it difficult to write about or did writing help you process it all?

I think what was difficult was watching and experiencing my mother’s decline yet having very little understanding (especially early on) of what was happening to her and what she could and could not comprehend. Of course, every day was different, but I felt desperately sad for her and powerless to help her. Writing about it was comforting for me and it helped me personalize it in a way that gave her as much dignity and peace as was possible.

In some of your poems in this book, such as Winter SolsticeTaking Refuge, and Losing Memory, you related your mother’s dementia to nature, specifically the winter season.  It is actually a perfect analogy.  How were you first inspired to relate your mother’s passing to nature in this way?

Growing up, nature was a large part of my experiences with my parents. Hunting for morel mushrooms every spring with my dad, and looking for bittersweet in the woods with my mom in the fall. We went camping every summer and played outdoors always. I grew to love the sound of birds and also the wisdom they presented  through a pair of binoculars. By the time I started writing seriously, in my late 30’s, nature seemed the perfect metaphor for so many things.

Were you writing these poems as everything was happening in real time or from memory later?

The answer to this question is both. “Departure” for example was written on a plane flying home from seeing my mom a year before she died. (I lived 10 hours away) “Taking Refuge” was written when I traveled to see my mom when she still lived in her own home but was hospitalized with abdominal issues. I could see while she was in the hospital and out of her normal familiar setting, that she was struggling more than I realized. It was still another year before we actually moved her into assisted care.

Let’s talk about the grief process.  For myself, I found I was already grieving my Dad when he began to forget me.  I realized after his death I was already very far along in the grief process. How has the process evolved for you?

Pretty much as you describe. I was the oldest daughter, the one designated to care for her. Even though I couldn’t do that physically because i was so far away, i definitely did it emotionally, until she could no longer comprehend, and then I still did it anyway. My two brothers and sister were also wonderful with her. I was lucky in that regard that they did what they could as well.

Many of the poems came out of the grief i was feeling and from the lonely powerless feeling that engulfed me so often. (Did I mention guilt??? I always left her. struggling to remind myself that  I am doing the best I can and also what was right for me.

I love that you spoke of the realities of having dementia in such a forthright way.  Those of us who have experienced this with loved ones will identify immediately with your words.  I also think that those who are about to go through this with their loved ones will be helped by your candid description of the realities of this harsh disease.  When you wrote Winter Solstice, did you realize the extent to which it could be of great help to others?

I didn’t realize it while I was going through it, but after she died I looked over volumes of pages of writing that I did and thought to myself, maybe I could help someone not feel so alone as they spend years saying goodbye to a loved one. Maybe I could help them with their sadness, their anger and frustration, their coping with the real challenges that occur.

What is the most important thing you want others to take away from your book?

I would hope that they would feel less alone knowing that others are going through the same thing. Even though everyone’s journey is a bit different, the key symptoms of the disease are the same. Here is a poem that is not in the book. I actually wrote it this past summer thinking that I might use it when giving a talk about my book – I’m sure it will resonate with you as it does with me.  

Facing Dementia

I want to tell you
what not to do
how not to respond
where not to go.

I learned the hard way.

I want to say it doesn’t get easier.
It will take vicious turns
be unforgiving 
break your heart.

I learned the hard way.

I want to explain how it
steals personality
taunts intellect
preys on a sinking lucidity,

that any thought
of rescue or reasoning
will fail miserably
punishing you in your dreams.

You will learn the hard way.

Diana Howard©️2021

In closing, I just wanted to say that your poem Losing Memory really spoke to me because it’s such a great analogy comparing the loss of memory to a blizzard, and I can sadly imagine my loved one wandering, trying to find those memories again, only to have them wiped away by bitter winds. It actually made me realize I still feel the sting of those bitter winds sometimes, almost three years after my Dad passed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this terrible disease with the world.

Thanks so much, Bonnie!

COMMENT FROM BONNIE

*When I did the original QA questions, I didn’t know about the extra poem the author would be so gracious to send. I wanted to comment on it. It’s absolutely true. There is no way to reason with someone with dementia/Alzheimer’s, and no way to permanently rescue them. This condition and its effects will break your heart more than once .

Again, thank you Diana, for your wonderful answers and the new poem!

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author/Poet Diana Howard

Diana Howard is a poet and children’s author living in southeastern South Dakota. She began writing for children ten years ago. Her love of nature and animals influences her storytelling as she gives both voice and character to her subject matter.

BUY WINTER SOLSTICE

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

Self-Published Saturday: The Ruby Brooch

Self-Published Saturday is my attempt to help self-published and independent authors with one of the many tasks they have to handle on their own–marketing. Today I’m looking at a review I did years ago, back in 2013, and it’s my actually my most popular review on Amazon. The Ruby Brooch is the first book in Katherine Lowry Logan’s extremely successful Celtic Brooch series. I must explain myself before I post my review. I love time travel books, but I prefer those that lean more towards the historical than romance/sex. This one is definitely heavier on romance, and the heroine is a little (a lot) over the top, so I poked some fun at it, still giving it 4 stars. Hopefully you all won’t mind my humor, because it’s a great series and has made Katherine Lowry Logan a very successful independent author. This post today is not necessary to help with marketing, because it’s made a lot of sales, but to show self-published/independent authors all the possibilities for success, plus hopefully give everyone a chuckle. There are what could be construed as spoilers, just as a warning. Again, although I poked a little fun at this book, it is very successful.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

As the sole survivor of the car crash that killed her parents, grief-stricken paramedic Kit MacKlenna is stunned to learn her life is built on lies. A legacy from her father includes a faded letter and a well-worn journal. The journal reveals she was abandoned as a baby 160 years ago. The only clues to her identity are a blood-splattered shawl, a locket with the portrait of a 19th-century man, and a Celtic brooch with magical powers. Kit decides to continue her father’s twenty-five-year search for her identity, and solve her birth parents’ murders.

Scotsman Cullen Montgomery, a San Francisco-bound lawyer who resembles the ghost who has haunted Kit since childhood, helps her join a wagon train heading West. More dangerous than the river crossings, bad water, and disease encountered on the trail, is Cullen’s determination to expose her lies and uncover the source of her unusual knowledge and life-saving powers.

Kit is convinced if she can survive the perilous journey and Cullen’s accusations, as well as thwart his attempts to seduce her, she might solve the mystery of her heritage and return home without leaving her heart on the other side of time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Katherine Lowry Logan couples her psychology degree with lots of hands-on research when creating new settings and characters for her blockbuster Celtic Brooch series. 

These cross-genre stories have elements of time travel, sci-fi, fantasy adventure, mystery, suspense, historical, and romance and focus on events in American history. Katherine is the mother of two daughters and grandmother of five—Charlotte, Lincoln, James Cullen, Henry, and Meredith. She is also a marathoner and lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her fluffy Goldendoodle, Maddie the Marauder.

BOOK REVIEW

See my four-star review below ****

SPOILERS: I love a good time travel novel. This one has a good premise and takes us to the Oregon Trail. The means of time travel is obviously a ruby brooch. Although the history of the brooch is not really explained in this first installment, there are other books in this series and we may learn more about it later. I enjoyed the overall story, although I am much more interested in the time travel and historical period than the sex. Now here’s to the criticism: I don’t mind a good romance but can do without the play-by-play description of the sex. You’ve seen one nipple, you’ve seen them all. Except for the heroine of course. I’m sure her nipples are the best! Because this heroine is not only a time traveler. She’s also an expert horsewoman and jockey, brown belt in karate, an expert in classical music and literature, a trained paramedic, AND she even performed vascular surgery even though she’s not a surgeon. Oh yeah and she’s a sketch artist too. And beautiful. And rich. So, in other words way over the top. She’s Super Woman. And thank goodness she brought a pregnancy test with her on the Oregon trail. Because of course she knew she would need that although her fiancé was dead and she had no romantic prospects to her knowledge.

Now with all that being said, I did enjoy the overall story and the look back at a fascinating time in American History. I will try the other books in the series and see where the brooch takes us next.

BUY LINKS

LINK TO BUY THE RUBY BROOCH

LINK TO ALL ELEVEN BOOKS IN THE SERIES

**Remember whenever you buy a book from a self-published author or any author, be sure to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. It is very important to the book’s success. It does not have to be a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines will do.

Blog Tour and Book Promo: Tempted by the Runes

*Not a book review

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Tempted by the Runes

Born centuries apart. Bound by a love that defied time.

She couldn’t believe her eyes. The runes were normally so reliable and she had never doubted them before.

Madison Berger is visiting Dublin with her family for a Viking re-enactment festival, when she chances upon a small knife embedded in the banks of the Liffey. Maddie recognises what the runes on the knife’s handle signify: the chance to have her own adventures in the past.

Maddie only intends to travel back in time briefly, but a skirmish in 9th century Dublin results in her waking up on a ship bound for Iceland, with the man who saved her from attack.

Geir Eskilsson has left his family in Sweden to boldly carve out a life of his own. He is immediately drawn to Maddie, but when he learns of her connection to his sisters-in-law, he begins to believe that Fate has played a partin bringing them together. Amidst the perils that await on their journey to a new land, the truest battle will be to win Maddie’s heart and convince her that the runes never lie…

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

Amazon US

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014), and the RNA Fantasy Romantic Novel of the year 2021 with Echoes of the RunesTempted by the Runes (time travel published by Headline 9th December 2021) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

Social Media Links –

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Giveaway to Win a signed paperback copy of Tempted By The Runes, a pair of silver Thor’s hammer earrings and a Thor’s hammer Christmas tree bauble (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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